Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Chateau Saint Martin (de la Garrigue), Chateau du Languedoc


Garrigue: scrubland found in Mediterranean forests, woodlands and vineyards composed of savory herbs such as rosemary, wild thyme, lavender, etc.


     Chateau Saint Martin de la Garrigue... pretty self explanatory what they think you will find as developed flavors and aromas in their wine! Yes - you find garrigue, or at least I certainly did... but in a way I had never truly experienced before. But then, I have never really explored wines from the Languedoc or the Coteaux du Languedoc before. Now I have a lecture coming up in 2 weeks and I need to be ready!

     Well first I suppose I should start off by stating that the Languedoc and the Coteaux du Languedoc are not the same. Languedoc has history with the AOC and commands much more respect with their wines, where-as the Coteaux is a bit of a "hodge-podge" of up-and-comers and blenders of table wine.

     And within this "hodge-podge" is a winery that can trace its roots back directly to the 8th century and the Romans that occupied the land, growing wine there. Indeed, on the grounds of Chateau Saint Martin ( )is a chapel that has been dated to this period and is still functional. As is the way with many things, this property has changed hands many times, and now a Mssr. Jean-Claude Zebalia is in charge of things. And in-charge he is! In 1990, only 20% of the vineyard was classified AC, but Zebalia challenged this and now 90% of the vineyard is under that classification (and selling price point!). Fight the battles that need fighting, right?

     So a vineyard in an AC with varying levels of respect, but little interest outside of France (or at least the Mediterranean), and a winemaker who will fight for the respect of his peers. Did I mention that with his white blend, they have reduced the yield down to under 30 HL/ha? That's low, if ya didn't know... really low. The AC only asks for a yield of 50 HL/ha. These facts in and of themselves make me want to learn more about Chateau Saint Martin, but the rest of their secrets (for now) will have to be discovered in the bottle and in the glass.

2008 Chateau Saint Martin de la Garrigue Bronzinelle
Picpoul de Pinet, Coteaux du Languedoc, France
 (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Carignan)
13.5% ABV, $22 CAD     **EXCELLENT VALUE**
  • Visual:      deep garnet core with light to moderate cherry rim
  • Aroma:     fully intense; youthful; layered; showing obvious herbaceousness (wild thyme, rosemary, bay leaf & savory), black currants, plum tomato, saskatoon berries and blueberries, deep layers of incense-like quality (myrrh & frankincense)
  • Palate:      0 dryness, moderate+ crisp acids, moderate- well restrained and fine tannins, moderate+ body, moderate+ slightly hot alcohol, moderate+ to fully intense flavors; youthful and fresh; layered; palate is showing much of the nose with oak taking over a bit... fruit comes in second and lingers with the tomato and savory herb, long structure
  • Conclusion:     this wine drinks far beyond its price (to me). It has depth, balance, layers and an obvious willingness to showcase its terroir. I couldn't ask anything more for $20 and expect far less
  • Pairings:     a well made Bolognese, rabbit in braised with tomato and butter, even a steak tartare would do well
     And so begins my adventure to learn the Languedoc and the Coteaux du Languedoc... wish me well!

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